Until the lower courts review the case, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) told music and technology witnesses at a morning hearing Sept. 28, Congress plans to "do nothing"
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Until the lower courts review the case, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) told music and technology witnesses at a morning hearing Sept. 28, Congress plans to "do nothing" with legislation that will steer the post-Grokster environment.
As he added, "That's something we're very good at," pro-industry committee member Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Cal.) audibly groaned. Specter then quipped, "Unless Senator Feinstein has a plan."
In the long term, however, Specter added that his committee will take into consideration recommendations offered by the panelists, most of whom called for a marketplace rather than a legislative solution.
Music licensing reform, already a major issue on the House side, was a priority for most panelists. Agreeing with Register of Copyrights Marybeth Peters that the copyright law needs an update of its antiquated procedures to get the permission of publishing rights holders, Stanford Law School professor Mark Lemly called the current logjam "the morass of rights needed to clear material."
Also during the hearing, the new public registry business model of SNOCAP, brainchild of Napster founder Shawn Fanning, received support from Recording Industry Assn. of America president Cary Sherman as a "prototype marketplace solution."
SNOCAP, which is expected online in November, will enable labels and individual artists to make the full depth of their catalogs available to authorized P2P network retailers. It is set up to provide one-stop access to clearing rights and managing online distribution across retail destinations. The service will also give rights holders the ability to maintain full control of content by determining business rules and setting pricing and usage terms.
Sam Yagar, developer of eDonkey, told lawmakers that while he had complied with the RIAA's cease and desist letter, he was going out of business for a lack of litigation funds. He expressed his hope for the development of a legal alternative.
Witnesses and lawmakers also discussed how to deal with rogue P2P players who move offshore in light of the expected domestic legal responses of the Justice Department to the Grokster ruling on secondary liability.
Also in attendance was Gary Shapiro, chairman/CEO of the Consumer Electronics Assn., who believes content holders are trampling those rights of technological innovators; SNOCAP COO Ali Aydar; and Diamond Rio lead singer Marty Roe, who reminded legislators that P2P damage to the industry has resulted in half of Nashville songwriters having to leave their profession.
In related news, former chairman and Judiciary Committee copyright champion Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) was presented with the National Music Publishers Assn.'s President's Award.
This award is given to an individual for outstanding contribution to the music publishing industry. In the Sept. 27 announcement, NMPA president/CEO David Israelite characterized the Senator, who is also a published song lyricist, as a "champion of the rights of songwriters and publishers."